The circuit

The standard ‘overhead’ join

An overhead join is a conventional method for an aircraft to approach and safely land at most airfields. It helps a pilot to integrate with other aircraft, join the circuit, and land. It may not be appropriate at some airfields however, such as those conducting winch launch glider activity.

The purpose of the standard overhead join is to create an orderly flow of traffic into the circuit.

  • Approach and overfly the airfield at 2,000ft above airfield level. You should have already checked the airfield elevation. Some airfields may specify that you join overhead at a different height.
  • If you don’t know the runway in use and landing details (e.g. from radio), once you are overhead, observe any T-Square and assess the wind. It helps to be directly over the windsock in order to estimate the direction. You should then make a decision about which runway you will use. Remember, if there are aircraft in the circuit, you should use the same runway as them.
  • Fly to the dead side. This is the area on the opposite side of the runway to where the circuit is flown.
  • Descend to circuit height on the dead side in a 180° descending turn in the same direction as the circuit – i.e. left hand turns if the circuit is left hand.
  • Once you have reached circuit height, join the crosswind leg and follow the circuit around for a landing. Keep an eye out for other aircraft taking off and in the circuit.

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